To take your gaming to the next level, the Azeron offers a highly customizable gaming controller to replace your keyboard. It’s more comfortable, faster and more responsive–and will give you a competitive advantage.
Everyone knows a mouse and keyboard is superior to a console controller: you just can’t match the accuracy and speed a mouse offers for aiming. But the keyboard part of that equation is not as great as it could be, and many just prefer the more logical movement of a thumbstick. With a keyboard, you need to keep your fingers on the WASD keys, which means attempting to press a myriad of other keys sometimes just isn’t possible without lifting your movement fingers off first. What if you could have the best of both worlds though? You can.
The Azeron gaming keypad isn’t a keypad at all–it’s more like an ergonomic extension of your fingers, with buttons plastered all over it, and a thumbstick for movement. Every button is conveniently placed, and there’s very little effort needed to travel between keys. Let’s take a closer look, and at the end of this review we’ll have a competition to win your own custom Azeron keypad for yourself.
Azeron Specifications At a Glance
- 19 fingertip switches
- Thumbstick (clickable)
- 4-way digital hat (clickable)
- Thumb switch
- 2 onboard switchable profiles
- Portable (no drivers needed)
- Priced from €150
Customize All The Things
The Azeron is customizable in a number of ways. First, you can opt for either the full-size Classic Azeron or the smaller Compact model (both are priced the same). The Classic has the most keys, so I opted for that. Then, of course, you can choose either left or right-handed versions (right-handed is a little more expensive), and either a small or large, depending on your hand size. You can choose between a flat or curved palm rest (the flat being a little better for larger hands). There’s a wide range of colors to choose, too. The configuration I chose was large with a curved handrest in neon green, and that’s what you’ll see pictured throughout the review.
You can also specify up to 8 characters to be printed (literally 3D printed, more on that later) on the size of the device instead of the standard “Azeron”. This is fantastic for streamers or just anyone who wants to show off a little bling. I chose to have a shortened version of my gamer handle (w0lfie).
Yes, It’s 3D Printed
The small Latvian team that designs and makes the Azeron is able to achieve such a high degree of customization by 3D printing the majority of the Azeron device. Only the handrest, baseplate, and electronics are made with standard manufacturing processes. The rest of the shell and fingertip switches is entirely 3D printed. This means the final product isn’t quite as polished as something you’d buy off the shelf, but you’d be doing yourself a great disservice if you let this put you off. While some layer lines are visible remnants of the printing process, the Azeron feels incredibly well-built and engineered to last. If anything, being 3D printed means it’ll have a longer life than off-the-shelf products, since components can be more easily replaced or user-serviceable.
However, do bear in mind that being a complete customized and 3D printed product will result in a higher than normal delivery time; and that’s on top of any inherent delays international shipping as a result of the current pandemic. Ours arrived in just over a week, but yours may take longer and will depend on demand.
Using the Azeron
Before you can use your Azeron, you’ll need to adjust the fit. On the underside you’ll find some small hex screws holding each finger and the thumbpad in place; unscrew all of these using the provided tool if they aren’t already loose. Then find the angle and distance that you find most comfortable, and lock each finger off one by one.
There are an absurd number of keys on the Azeron Classic, many of which you might not use depending on the game.
Each finger has at least 4 buttons: one directly beneath it, like a traditional keyboard; one that you pull into; one you can push into; and another on the row above. Your Index and first finger have a further key that’s curled over the top; while your first finger has a bonus key just to the right of it. That’s 19 keys literally at your fingertips. Then you have the thumbstick, digital hat (both of which can also be pushed), and bonus thumb button.
You’ll probably find yourself tweaking your key profiles often as you first start to use the Azeron. I started by assigning rows of keys to logical functions, like a set of weapons. But then moved to a more per-finger approach, such as my first finger for special movements; Index finger for grenades and deployable equipment; and third-finger for squad actions like marking targets.CAll
Configuring the Azeron
Although no drivers are required to use the Azeron, it does require some software to program what each key does. The software is simple, uncluttered, and incredibly easy to use.
The main screen shows a preview of each button, and what key or function it’s assigned to. Press any key on the Azeron to get immediate visual feedback, or click on a button to reassign it. Just click, then press the new button. Buttons can either send a standard keyboard signal (or combination, such as “Ctrl-F”), joystick, or controller command. The thumbstick can also be configured to send WASD instead of a joystick axis.
Compared to the typical bloated gaming peripheral software, it’s a breath of fresh air. I found it was really easy mid-game to Alt-Tab out, assign a keyboard key I forgot about, then head back in within seconds. If only all gaming peripherals were as easy to use as this.
New features are being added all the time, but the current software version is officially defined as an Early Pre-Alpha (and being updated often). Be sure to copy your current profile to the software memory before updating firmware, as your onboard profiles will be deleted. Hopefully, Azeron will keep the same sleek and simple interface as the software develops.
While you can create more than one profile using the software and dynamically load it, only two profiles can be stored on the Azeron’s onboard memory. You can switch between those at any point using the button on the side, and another LED will light up to indicate when you’ve activated the alternative profile. These are stored on the device itself, so you can unplug it, carry it to someone’s house or a tournament, and still have your Azeron set up precisely as you like it.
Is This Cheating?
There are no custom drivers needed to use the Azeron–it’s sending standard keyboard or joystick command codes. You should be completely safe when playing any online game. Whether it gives you a competitive advantage is another question: it undoubtedly does. Once you’ve adjusted to the new input method and developed the muscle memory, the speed at which you can navigate keyboard commands will give you a competitive edge, for sure.
Should You Buy the Azeron?
For both casual and serious gamers, the Azeron is an incredible device to elevate your game. It may also find niche uses in the VR community for seated games like flight and space sims that need multiple keyboard buttons that are otherwise difficult to locate while wearing a headset.
There will be a period of adjustment though. For the first week or so you’ll be tweaking your profile and learning an entirely new set of muscle memories. This means you’ll likely play worse for a while than you did with a keyboard. But after that, you’ll play faster and more responsive than ever, never struggling to find the right key again.
Will it be comfortable in the long term? That’s difficult to tell after only a few weeks with the device. I haven’t experienced any cramping yet, but I’m not usually prone to cramping. Nor do I play very long sessions–up to an hour or so at most. The Azeron does lock your hand into a claw-like position, so you should take frequent short breaks to between games. If you have a history of issues with even a regular keyboard and mouse, I don’t think the Azeron will be a good fit for you. While a device that makes you move your hand and fingers less might be fantastic for your gaming performance, it certainly won’t help any underlying physical conditions you already suffer from. If you’re worried, opt for the flat palm rest which is apparently more accommodating of large hands and offers a little more flexibility with placement.
At this point, I would struggle to go back to a normal keyboard for gaming.
Win an Azeron
Enter the competition below for a chance to win your own Azeron keypad. We’ll be sending a 100% coupon to one lucky reader so they can buy their own completely customized device. Good luck!
Enter the Competition!
Read the full article: Don’t Buy a Gaming Keyboard Until You’ve Seen The Azeron! (Review and Giveaway)